Eight months after the partnership between FanDuel and Illinois racetrack Fairmount Park was first reported by Sports Handle, the daily fantasy and sports betting giant formally announced Monday it will open a retail sportsbook at the 95-year-old track. The track will be rebranded as FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.
A deal has been in the works between FanDuel and Fairmount for nearly a year, but FanDuel initially went live with sports betting in Illinois last summer with the Par-A-Dice Casino because Fairmount had not yet been licensed. The track got its Master Sports Betting License in late October.
According to the announcement, FanDuel will transfer its sports betting license from Par-A-Dice to Fairmount, which at least implies that FanDuel will give up its retail location at Par-A-Dice in East Peoria in exchange for the Fairmount location, which is about three hours south in Collinsville. It also appears that FanDuel will give up its online/mobile partnership with Par-A-Dice, raising the question of who will fill the void.
Deal gives BetMGM Illinois market access
Sports Handle has been able to confirm through industry sources that BetMGM is the likely answer. The company has the second skin (mobile access) for Par-A-Dice and is linked to Par-A-Dice through a partnership with Boyd Gaming. However, MGM does not indicate market access in Illinois in its latest quarterly report.
With regard to FanDuel, the company chose to go live with Par-A-Dice in August in order to keep up with rival DraftKings, which launched digital sports betting on Aug. 5 through a partnership with Casino Queen in East St. Louis. In terms of gaining market share, being first to market between DraftKings and FanDuel is of paramount importance, and FanDuel was able to launch 23 days later.
In September, DraftKings took $95.8 million in online wagers while FanDuel handled about $75.6 million, showing that even a three-week head start can be advantageous.
For FanDuel, the partnership with Fairmount marks its first with a horse racetrack, and in addition to “revitalizing” the track, FanDuel and partner TVG will make a direct investment in horse racing by renewing the $250,000 St. Louis Derby, which has not been run since 2006. The track has a one-mile dirt oval and has been approved for 53 live racing days in 2021, according to the release.
Date for switchover unknown
No timetable for the switchover was released, but with both Fairmount and FanDuel now licensed, the new venture could launch (with regulatory approval) as soon the companies are ready. The brick-and-mortar gaming venue at Fairmount will be the second “racino” in Illinois — PointsBet in late September launched the first racino in Illinois at Hawthorne Race Course.
Arlington Park is the third horse-racing venue in Illinois, and it has not applied for a sports betting license and does not currently have a partner.
FanDuel is now live with retail and/or digital sports betting in 10 U.S. states, and could be live in one more — Virginia — in the next few months. The company is among 25 sports betting operators that applied for a limited number of licenses in Virginia.